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Carroll set for thorough review of building codes

Whether you plan on building a garage, home, or a commercial business space in Carroll County, an upcoming comprehensive building code review could affect the inspection or permitting of that project.

A request by the Board of County Commissioners to thoroughly review the county's permitting and inspection codes moved one step closer to beginning Thursday.

The commissioners approved a proposal by the Department of Public Works that would review the county's building codes, compare Carroll's codes to surrounding counties and compare the workload and staffing levels of Carroll's Bureau of Permits and Inspections with surrounding counties.

The plan will include a review of five building related codes. They include building, plumbing, electrical, mechanical, and residential codes.

The intent of the review is to maintain the benefits of safety for the public, but reduce the cost of compliance, such as time or cost of materials, according to county project analyst Clay Fisher.

The review is expected to begin within the next couple of weeks and could take four months or longer to complete, Fisher said.

Commissioner Robin Frazier said the review requested by the commissioners is intended to boost economic development in the county by making it easier for businesses to build in the county.

"Any time that you can reduce red tape, hurdles, and time and money, then that attracts business and economic development," she said.

Carroll County already reviews its building codes every three years along with the state's regular review, according to Jason Green, a county code official and chief of the Bureau of Permits and Inspections.

The county finished its last review in 2012, Green said.

The code review requested by the commissioners will be a three-part process designed to engage interested parties to discuss and identify specific sections of the code that they believe could be altered or removed.

"What we want to do is take a look at everything and make sure everyone has a chance," Fisher said.

Interested parties will first be invited to share their concerns and experiences with sections of the code, before work groups are formed to evaluate the comments and suggest which sections of the code should be altered or removed.

Finally, the recommendations of all the work groups will be presented to the county commissioners.

Commissioner Haven Shoemaker said the end goal of the review is to find any inefficiencies in the code that could put Carroll in a "less than business-friendly light."

He said this review is part of the board's efforts to streamline government offices and services which the commissioners have been doing since they took office.

"They [building codes] don't need to be any more onerous than they absolutely have to be," Shoemaker said.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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